Literary Merit Essay on Sula by Toni Morrison

Literary Merit Essay

Bedford Readings once wrote “Literature gives us not much the full, factual proportions of the world as some of its experiences and meanings. Instead of defining the world, literature encourages us to try it out in our imagination.” This quote in fact portrays what literature really is about, and it is about the reader connecting to the story and using their imagination in order to understand what is going on, while also acquiring knowledge. Vladimir Nabokov states in the article, Good Readers and Good Writers, “The real writer, the fellow who sends planets spinning and models a man asleep and eagerly tampers with the sleeper’s rib, that kind of author has no given values at disposal: he must create them himself.” Nabokov tries to imply how good writers give the reader a whole new idea of a topic and the author himself has to “invent” that new thought. In Toni Morrison’s, Sula, Morrison examines love, biblical allusions and symbolism to prove her work is worthy of literary merit.

Morrison dramatizes the affection of love throughout her whole novel. The love Eva has for her son Plum, is stronger than any type of love a mother has for their children. At one point in the story Eva’s love becomes so powerful that it leads her to the killing of her own son. The reader might question “Well if she loves him so much…why does she kill him?” and it really makes the reader wonder why that is so. Most readers might think “She does not love him and she killed him just so she would not have to work harder,” but the real reason she took that action is because she did not want to see the person whom she loves the most in the entire world, suffer their entire life and feel pain every second of their being. Morrison also examines the love between Hannah and her mother. Throughout the beginning of the book Hannah seems to question Eva’s love for her, since Eva does not show her any type of affection. In fact, at some point Hannah asks Eva if she loves her and Eva answers with a response that could have been better to prove that she actually loves her like a mother loves her children. In pages 69-72, Eva and Hannah are talking about love and Eva makes it seem like she only loves Plum and she “loves” the others because they are her children. A different type of love Morrison shows is the love between BoyBoy and Nel. In the beginning there seems to be a lot of love between BoyBoy and Nel since they were there for each other and they cared for one another. Even though the reader thinks nothing can come between them, a twist comes in and BoyBoy cheats on Nel with Sula. BoyBoy knew Sula and Nel used to be best friends when they began an affair, therefore showing that there was no love after all. The way Toni Morrison conveys love in Sula, enforces the reader to observe all the ways there are to loving someone. Morrison examines many ways of love, such as: the love a mother has for her child, the love that never existed, and the forced type of love. Morrison, presenting all these types of love leaves the reader thinking about other types of love and even though sometimes people think there are no other ways to loving someone.

Tony Morrison in fact seems to use biblical allusions to make the actions characters take in the story more understandable and reasonable. Referring back to Eva, in page 155 Morrison stated ,”At the foot of the stairs she redistributed her weight between the crutches and swooped on through the front room, to the dining room, to the kitchen, swinging and swooping like a giant heron, so graceful sailing about in its own habitat but awkward and comical when it folded its wings and tried to walk.” By quoting this, Morrison wishes the reader can see Eva as an angel as Eva is walking towards Plum’s room to take away his life. The reader might not note or understand what Morrison was trying to do by describing Eva as angel, for the reason that Eva might look like a murderer in the reader’s mind, and the reason why Morrison portrays Eva as angel is so the reader realizes that Plum’s mom killed Plum, not for evil but for good. In page 155, Morrison also compares Eva to a type of Goddess when saying, “He opened his eyes and saw what he imagined was the great wing of an eagle pouring a wet lightness over him. Some kind of baptism, some kind of blessing, he thought. Everything is going to be all right, it said.” By saying that Plum was being blessed and baptized, Morrison attempts to make the reader comprehend that Eva should not be seen as a bad person because what Eva was trying to do was to bring an end for Plum’s misery. Toni Morrison includes biblical allusions in order to make the reader connect the novel to a bigger, more meaningful story.

Most literary merit books include significant and important symbols, and Morrison without doubt includes symbolism in Sula. A very significant symbol in Sula is Sula’s birthmark. Sula’s rose-shaped birthmark reached from her eyelid to her eyebrow and even though it did not seem as a big symbol at first, it really is. Morrison seeks to make the reader think more about the birthmark and why it is shaped as a rose and why it gets darker as time goes by. A reason why Toni Morrison may have incorporated a rose as Sula’s birthmark is because roses somewhat represent strength because of their thorns. However, once a person gets rid of the thorns, the rose is similar to any other flower, which is weak and sensitive. The rose seems to get darker throughout the book to symbolize that Sula in fact becomes a more cold hearted woman. Another very important symbol in Sula is fire and water. Although fire and water are each other’s opposite, they become a big part in Morrison’s novel. Morrison makes fire a big element in the novel because Plum and Hannah both die in a fire and they were both Eva’s children. In the other side, Morrison incorporates the importance of water when Chicken Little drowns. Chicken Little was not quite important to the story, he just became a symbol until he drowned in the lake and made an impact on both Nel’s and Sula’s life.

Sula, by Toni Morrison is a great read with immense literary merit. Morrison moralizes love, biblical allusions and symbolism to prove her work is definitely worthy of literary merit. Morrison attempts to develop a new thought into the readers mind by illustrating unknown ways of love and affection. In Sula, Morrison also includes many biblical allusions to try and make the reader connect a small allusion to a bigger picture, making the reader trace other biblical stories. Morrison seems to use symbols so the reader understands what the book is trying to teach them and what it is trying to say. With no doubt Sula is unquestionably a novel with a vast of literary merit.